Originally Published: August 31, 2017 11 p.m.
PHOENIX — The Los Angeles Dodgers have been swept in a series for the first time this season and former teammate Zack Greinke was a big reason why.
That and a parade of Arizona hits against another suddenly struggling Dodgers starter.
Greinke earned his major league-best 16th victory with six strong innings and the Diamondbacks wrapped up the three-game sweep with a dominant 8-1 victory on Thursday.
Chris Iannetta and A.J. Pollock homered for the Diamondbacks, who matched their season-best seventh straight victory and pulled 3 1/2 games ahead of idle Colorado for the National League’s top wild card spot.
The Dodgers, still with by far the best record in the majors (91-40), have lost a season-worst five in a row.
“Teams are going out and looking to play their best baseball against us and the clip that we were on for a few months obviously we were in rare company,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Did I foresee us losing five in a row? No. But I know we’ll turn it around.”
Greinke (16-6) allowed a run and four hits, striking out six and walking two, to improve to 13-1 in 16 home starts this season.
“It was just a great game,” he said. “Got a lot of runs. Amazing plays defensively. Couldn’t have got much better than that in that regard. ... Played flawlessly this whole series.”
The Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda (12-6) had arguably his worst outing of the year. The right-hander went just three innings and gave up seven runs and eight hits.
It was his shortest start and the most runs he’s allowed this season.
“A lot of mislocated pitches,” he said through an interpreter, “and they took advantage of all of them.”
Paul Goldschmidt doubled twice and drove in two runs for the Diamondbacks. Gregor Blanco had three hits, two of them doubles, drove in a run and scored twice.
Arizona scored 21 runs in the three-game sweep and has won nine of 10.
“It’s just starting pitching this series wasn’t there,” Roberts said. “ ... We talk about you’re as good as your starting pitching so it was one of these series where for three days we didn’t have it.”
As has happened throughout the series, the Diamondbacks struck early.
Blanco, leading off, took advantage of a lackadaisical play by right fielder Yasiel Puig to stretch a single into a double.
“The very first play really set an incredible tone,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “G.B. getting a hustle double. It just pepped up the entire dugout and redirected our entire thoughts as a group. We followed suit from there.”
Iannetta followed with a walk and Goldschmidt doubled down the left field line to bring both of them home. That made it 10 first-inning runs for Arizona in the series.
Los Angeles cut it to 2-1 in the second when Yasmani Grandal singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Adrian Gonzalez’s double.
But the Diamondbacks added three in their half of the inning. With two outs, Blanco brought in a run with his second double and Iannetta followed with a soaring, two-run shot into the left field seats and the Diamondbacks were up 5-1.
Goldschmidt’s double, followed by Pollock’s line shot just over the left field fence boosted the lead to 7-1 in the third.
Pollock made two outstanding defensive plays in center, one a leaping grab at the wall and the best a diving grab in the right field gap to rob Puig in the ninth.
HELP ON THE WAY
Fortunately for the Dodgers, they have the right person to put a stop to this skid when Clayton Kershaw returns to the rotation on Friday night against San Diego.
“Obviously with where we’re at right now I know that, not that he needs any more motivation or incentive,” Roberts said, “but I know that he’s looking to put a stop to this little downslide.”
Dodgers: The Dodgers took a patient approach in bringing back Kershaw, who has been sidelined since July 23 with a bad back. Roberts wants to keep Kershaw in the neighborhood of 75 pitches.
Diamondbacks: RHP Randall Delgado (elbow) plans to throw a simulated game on Saturday with the eye on returning to the bullpen next week.
Dodgers: LHP Kershaw (15-2, 2.04 ERA) makes his much-anticipated return from the DL to face the Padres on Friday night in San Diego. RHP Dinelson Lamet (7-5, 4.60) starts for San Diego.
Diamondbacks: Arizona heads to Colorado for a critical three-game series. RHP Taijuan Walker (7-7, 3.55 ERA) starts for the Diamondbacks in Friday night’s opener against Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (11-8, 3.81).